Results for the 2008 NCHA Futurity Sales are official. The actual average on 1,120 lots sold was $13,688, compared to $21,082 for 1,029 sold in 2007. The figures represent a 36% drop overall, not surprising in light of current global economics.

The dramatic turnaround might remind seasoned horse owners of the Savings and Loans scandal of the late 1980s and the resulting fallout, which at the time, dealt a tremendous blow to the horse industry. One benefit of the crisis, for those looking to purchase horses, was cheap prices compared to the previous year.

Jo Ellard was one such person. Ellard had her husband, Bill, owners of EE Ranches and Stallion Station in Whitesboro, Texas, purchased their first cutting horse in 1984.

“When I knew we were going to get into the cutting business, I started going to the shows and sales and watching everything that was going on,” said Ellard. “When the economy was crashing and the prices were falling drastically, that’s when we got in and bought some great mares at bargain prices.”

Bill Ellard, founder of National Teachers Associates, an insurance company headquartered in Dallas, had put together a prize-winning string of horned Herefords, before he and Jo ventured into the horse business, and Jo and the couple’s two sons got involved with cattle breeding and showing, as well. The experience afforded Jo a critical eye for livestock and an understanding of genetics and breeding that she was able to transfer to the cutting horse business.

One of her first purchases during the S&L debacle was the Doc Quixote daughter Laney Doc, out of NCHA Futurity reserve champion Christmas Four, who Matlock Rose considered one of the grittiest mares that he ever showed.

Ellard purchased Laney Doc at the Fares Ranch Dispersal in the spring of 1988. The then 6-year-old had been shown by Bill Riddle to earn more than $221,000, with her biggest paychecks as reserve champion of the NCHA Derby and as third-placed in the Gold & Silver Stakes.

Laney Doc’s first money earner was Four Acres, by Bob Acre Doc, bred by Fares Ranch but owned by EE Ranches. Four Acres was the first of two Laney Doc foals to earn over $200,000, as well as the first of six to earn over $100,000. Altogether she produced 16 performers with total earnings of more than $1.3 million, making her the #3 all-time leading dam of NCHA performers.

Her last foal, Laney Rey Too, earned $67,904 as a finalist in the 2008 NCHA Futurity under longtime EE Ranches resident trainer Guy Woods.

Check back here for full results and analysis of the 2008 NCHA Futurity Sales.